US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) was one of the strongest Congressional critics of the Comcast/NBCU joint venture when it was under review, and she is now saying that the move of FCC Commissioner Meredith Baker from the Commission to Comcast mere months after approval is proof that the review process is not in the public interest.
Waters said that the move demonstrates that the review “…was overly politicized and rammed through in blatant disregard for the agencies’ responsibility to the American people.” She also tied in another recent move involving the one of the principals involved in the merger. “In addition to the Obama Administration’s appointment of NBC Universal’s former parent company, General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt to his new economic panel the same week the Comcast-NBC merger was approved, Commissioner Baker’s resignation and frequent criticisms against the FCC’s review process underscores the pressure and influence the combining companies exerted over federal regulators.”
The frequent complaints from many, including Baker, about the FCC using the review process to tack unwarranted burdens on the merged entity are baseless, said Waters, because for the most part they were limited to concessions offered from the getgo by the merging parties before the review had even gotten under way.
She added that there is nothing in the network neutrality provisions that Comcast promised to honor that wasn’t in the general net neutrality rules approved by the Commission after extensive negotiation with internet providers.
She said, “At every juncture, Comcast and NBC Universal set the terms of the merger’s approval as they co-opted civil rights organizations with philanthropic donations and pressured the Administration to grant the approval in exchange for ‘innovation, investment, and job creation.’ The fact that the companies announced their new executives before the regulators released their orders approving the merger further illustrates how brazen and assured Comcast and NBCU were that the merger would be approved.”
Concluded Waters, “Despite the unprecedented public participation and substantive concerns expressed during the Commission’s review of the Comcast-NBC merger, it is sufficiently clear that neither the Commission nor the DOJ had any intention of blocking the combination or reviewing it with careful scrutiny….It seems that with each passing month, we discover more troubling information about the Comcast-NBC merger’s approval that continues to undermine the credibility of the entire regulatory review. I hope the American people are paying attention.”